1. Water below a dam or waterpower development
2. Can also refer to a type of fishery. Tailwater
fisheries may be created at the outflow from large
dams, where the size of the reservoir creates a steep
temperature gradient, with colder water stored at
the bottom of the reservoir near the outlet. The constant
cold-water flow provided by the reservoir's outflow,
coupled with the generally silt-free nature of the
outflow, creates ideal water conditions for cold-water
fish such as trout.
The San Juan River located in Northwest New Mexico
is one the nation's best trout fisheries. Starting
at a source in the Rocky Mountains, the San Juan River
flows into Navajo Dam Reservoir. From the bottom of
Navajo Dam Reservoir, emerges the San Juan River tailwater.
The cold, clear water that makes up the San Juan River
provides the perfect habitat for aquatic flora, the
insects that inhabit it and the trout that feed on
them. This is especially true in the waters of the
San Juan River that are designated Quality Waters
by the State of New Mexico.
The Quality Waters encompass 4.25 miles of the San
Juan River below Navajo Dam and are world-renowned
for the tremendous amount of trophy sized trout that
call it home. In the Quality Waters of the San Juan
River, the trout typically caught average 17-18 inches
in length with fish over 20 inches being commonplace.
While widely known as a Rainbow Trout fishery, Brown
Trout are becoming increasingly more common. It was
recently estimated by the New Mexico Department of
Game & Fish that the population split between
Rainbows and Browns is now 50%-50% below the Texas
The trout of the Quality Waters are known to be particularly
picky. Small flies, fine tippet and impeccable presentation
are required to trick these highly selective fish.
It is this challenge and the great reward of trophy
trout that keep visitors coming back year after year.
It is not just the trout that make the San Juan River
special. Set underneath towering sandstone ridges
and the always spectacular New Mexico skies, the San
Juan River provides a home to a diverse range of wildlife.
Whether watching a bald eagle soar high overhead or
seeing a beaver duck under the water, make sure to
take a moment to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. It
is this unique combination of scenery, wildlife and,
of course, the fish that make the San Juan River a
truly special place.